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Groton deals with high costs of plan to reopen schools safely

New London

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH)– Groton superintendent Dr. Michael Graner sits behind a desk shield which could be on every desk if students return to school in the fall. It has a clear plastic front with white plastic walls along the sides.

“We’re really trying to be sure that the health measures that we’re taking are going to allow parents to feel comfortable with that,” said Dr. Graner.

It’s been the busiest summer in his 50 year career. 

He and Assistant Superintendent Susan Austin listened to a hundred voices in developing their three reopening plans while more than a hundred educators developed a curriculum for each plan.

“That comes face to face. It comes as a distant model, and it comes as hybrid model,” said Austin.

Which they prefer. Half the students would come to school Monday and Tuesday with the other half Thursday and Friday. 

The three days home would be remote learning, which is why they have spent $1.1 million on technology.

“Chromebooks computers for students in grades two through 12 and tablets for kindergarten and first grade students,” said Dr. Graner.

Smaller size desk shields will be used by elementary school students while taller ones will sit on the desks of high school students. 

The school department spent $66,000 on the desk shields. It bought 25-hundred of them for every singe desk in the schools. 

It also bought a hundred thousand masks and $75,000 worth of cleaning supplies.

Groton has dozens of teachers with pre-existing conditions. They will teach remotely and substitutes will have to be hired for the in person portion. So staffing is also costing a lot more.

“We’re thinking more than a million dollars in additional funding,” said Dr. Graner.

They’ve gotten some help through the Cares Act and Congress is working on the Heroes Act which has money for education. 

“We’re all kind of holding our breath waiting for that,” said Dr. Graner.

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